Sheffield Garden Walk
LINCOLN PARK — The Sheffield Music Festival & Garden Walk might go for a stroll of its own next year.
The Sheffield Neighborhood Association has announced a public meeting next month to discuss a possible move of the fest from its longtime home at Sheffield and Webster avenues down Webster to Trebes Park at Racine Avenue.
The park would play host to the main music stage and Craft Beer Festival. Vendors would line Webster east from there to a second music stage at Kenmore Avenue. The Kids’ Corner would be on Clifton Avenue. The Garden Walk element of the fest would remain largely the same in its 49th year.
The association has set a public meeting for 7 p.m. Jan. 11 at the Little Sisters of the Poor auditorium, 2325 N. Lakewood Ave., to discuss the possible move.
Association Vice President Laury Lewis said it makes sense for a number of reasons.
“The last several years have not been great,” Lewis said Wednesday.
The fest has faced increased competition with other summer events in the city, and the last two years in particular have seen brutal weather: hot days and, last year, heavy rains in the evening that washed out the music stages and really caused the association to take a bath, not just with reduced revenues but actual losses in what is really its main annual fundraiser.
“We can’t control the competition,” Lewis said. “We can’t control the weather. All we can control is what we offer people.”
So the idea is to move the main stage off the asphalt parking lot at St. Vincent de Paul at Sheffield and Webster and over to the shady green of Trebes Park. The fest would also benefit from “the extensive number of shade trees” on Webster, an east-west street, which was also the home base of the Garden Walk before it switched to the north-south Sheffield in 2000, Lewis said.
That would leave open the north-south arteries of Sheffield and Racine — a not inconsiderable benefit, especially with the Cubs set to be in town for the July 22-23 weekend when the Garden Walk will be held next summer. St. Vincent de Paul would also get to book weddings that weekend for a change.
“This is a — to put it bluntly — make-or-break year for the Sheffield Neighborhood Association,” Lewis said. The fundraiser needs to succeed after last year’s washout.
“We said we’ve got to do something to shake up our festival,” he added. “We needed to do something. Call it a shot in the arm.”
Lewis identified three possible obstacles: residents along Webster, the Chicago Park District and the Oz Park Baseball Association, which also uses Trebes Park as well as Jonquil Park. The Park District, he said, would probably be amenable, but residents and the baseball league might have to put up with a disruption for the weekend.
Thus the public meeting next month.
Lewis said the association will probably make a decision on the move at the meeting or soon after, depending on the public feedback, but the final decision on the move would probably come down to Ald. Michele Smith (43rd).
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